Homeschoolers wary of virtual classes

By Anita Matthews

Homeschooling parents in the United States now have the choice of sending their children to kindergarten and primary schools in cyberspace, courtesy of programmes initiated by the states and private entities.

Some have embraced it; others are questioning it.

In New Zealand, Homeschooling Federation founder Claire Aumonier is wary of ceding the entire learning experience of a toddler or young child to the computer.

“I don’t see virtual schools inundating homeschoolers but I do see the Government leaning towards it because they are cheaper,” she says.

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Smart digital future home locked up

2:00AM Tuesday May 27, 2003

By ANITA MATTHEWS

If you think the term “smart home” has entered the technology vernacular along with the catchphrases smart card, smart phone, smart cars and smart school, think again.

New Zealand home automation company SmartHome Ltd claims it has had exclusive rights to use the term since 1999.

Business development manager Shane Walls-Harris said the company registered “smart home” with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (Iponz) and had a monopoly on its use within the context of home automation systems.

In fact, SmartHome has also registered related terms: smart house, future home, digital house, intelligent house and other variants.
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Policy needed to curb e-mail abuse

By Anita Matthews

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) Inc urged companies to be proactive and spell out a policy on Internet surfing and e-mail use to prevent unauthorised or careless use by employees.

Its advisory services manager Peter Tritt said a comprehensive policy would protect employers from vicarious liability as well as educate users about legal risks that they might inadvertently take.

“Having supplied a computer for work, employers have the right to make sure it is being used for that purpose. This means you can access e-mails on the computer and monitor time spent and websites visited. Most employees forget that using the Internet and e-mail at work is at the employer’s resource and therefore, not a private affair,” he said after panel discussion organised by software security firm Clearswift (Asia/Pacific) Pty Limited in Auckland in May.

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It’s mother’s little helper

12:00AM, Thursday April 17, 2003

By ANITA MATTHEWS

With thousands of websites catering to mothers, what more can a newly launched mummy-type site offer to make a real difference?

Andrew Robinson (left) and Peter Evans, directors of Experteach and Ammas.com Ltd. Picture / Fotopress
Andrew Robinson (left) and Peter Evans, directors of Experteach and Ammas.com Ltd. Picture / Fotopress

Well, mums.co.nz reckons it will give mothers a chance to increase their knowledge and share expert advice that is rated and ranked by their peers.

Fashioned after India’s lifestyle site Ammas.com, whose growth was largely fuelled by volunteers, the Kiwi edition hopes to build a web community as large as its predecessor and reward mothers who have contributed to its growth.

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How e-junk poses global hazard

12:00AM Friday April 11, 2003

By ANITA MATTHEWS

Hazards from computer junk and other discarded electronic goods are of mounting concern globally and New Zealand has no national strategy to deal with the problem.

The deputy director at Auckland University’s International Centre for Sustainability Engineering and Research, Dr Carol Boyle, says that such a strategy is necessary to prevent the contamination of landfills.

“Although computers and other electronic goods are listed on the New Zealand Waste List, no measures have been put in place to identify how they are to be handled at the end of their useable life,” she said.
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Teen cellphone radiation risk

12:00AM Friday April 04, 2003

By ANITA MATTHEWS

Mobile phone manufacturers should take seriously a Swedish finding that their products are dangerous for teenagers and work on developing safer phones, says scientist Dr Neil Cherry.

Cherry, an associate professor in environmental health at Lincoln University, Christchurch, said there were more than 50 patents for devices or methods to make phones safer that were not being used by manufacturers.

“My estimate is that it is practical to reduce users’ exposure by 100 to 1000 times,” he said.

“The primary methods are to manufacture the handset within a ‘Faraday cage’ shield,” he said. Read more

Indian IT professionals suffer global backlash

12:00AM Tuesday April 01, 2003

By ANITA MATTHEWS

Indian IT professionals have been at the short end of the stick in recent weeks.

On March 9, the Malaysian police, apparently on a routine migrant raid, rounded up 191 IT professionals at a posh condominium in Kuala Lumpur.

The expatriates were allegedly handcuffed and detained, though they had legal work permits, for at least eight hours.

Most of the IT professionals held had been recruited from India to work at Malaysia’s high-tech hub, the Multimedia Super Corridor.

The rough treatment has prompted an exodus: “Some 40 of those who were raided have already left the country. A hundred more booked tickets to leave,” said software engineer Srinivasan Shanthi Muthu.

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Blurred line of weblogs

12:00AM Tuesday September 10, 2002

By JULIAN MATTHEWS

On July 26, a veteran journalist for the Houston Chronicle was fired after he was outed for maintaining a weblog, or online journal.

Steve Olafson covered the Brazoria County beat, but on the side - without telling his bosses - he also adopted the pseudonym Banjo Jones and posted personal commentaries and musings on a weblog called Brazosport News.

Olafson confessed the weblog was just a “creative outlet”. But some of the writing belittled rival papers and mocked local politicians, raising the ire of Chronicle editor Jeff Cohen, who promptly sacked him.

The incident makes an interesting argument on what is expected of an employee both on and off duty.
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